Taking charge of how we feel within every experience can transform one’s life. . .

How I saw myself and how I felt were in the hands of others for the better part of the first four decades of my life.  I “danced” around the actions and the opinions of every one, desperately trying to be accepted and not rejected.  What had made me that way is likely owing to many things.  I wasn’t raised in a household where love was freely expressed, not between my parents or toward us four kids.  I’m convinced, now that I’ve matured and have thirty-five years of recovery under my belt, that my parents felt unworthy thus couldn’t pass on what they really hadn’t been able to claim for themselves.

They were certainly good people and did the best they could.  It’s with great relief that I say they parted this world feeling very loved by me.  In some significant ways their behavior hadn’t changed much, but I wasn’t glued to what they did or didn’t do as the cause of how I felt or acted.  How freeing it is to simply make one’s own choice about how to see every detail of life and the multiplicity of people who have entered our “circle” for a day, an hour, a week or a lifetime.  Some aren’t meant to stay forever.  But every one who “visits” is on a divine appointment.  Isn’t that a delicious idea?

If taking charge of how you might feel or respond to every experience seems daunting to you, remember that you have a lot of help, both the unseen kind and the helpers in skin whom you can call upon when trying to interpret what your reaction could best be in a situation.  What works well for me is to simply attempt kindness in every situation.  I have shared in public settings and in a couple of books a great story by the Dalai Lama that defines pretty carefully the best response to any person or experience.  Here’s the story:

The Dalai Lama was invited to be the after dinner speaker at a prestigious fund-raiser in California a few years ago.  Following dinner he was introduced and he stood quietly behind the podium for a few minutes and then said, “In this life you have one job and it’s to love one another.”  Following those words, he stepped away from the podium.  The audience was immediately uncomfortable.  They didn’t know whether to clap or laugh. And then the Dalai Lama returned to the podium and a sigh of relief could be heard throughout the auditorium.  This time he simply and quietly said, “And if you can’t love one another, at least don’t hurt one another.”  And then he walked off the stage. People were stunned but the message was heard loud and clear.

I think of that story often when I’m in a situation where I feel dismissed or worse.  I can choose to walk away,  with love in my heart for the other person knowing that he or she was simply projecting on to me how they feel about themselves, or I can retaliate.  The choice is clear.  I want to be in charge of my feelings and my behavior.  Don’t you?  The next time an opportunity to give your power away to some one else comes up, remember the words of the Dalai Lama and you’ll walk away a bit taller.

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